- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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NEW YORK -- Now nearly halfway through the season, the Yankees' Most Important Player may be on the mound on Friday night.
Hiroki Kuroda needs to be a stabilizer if the Yankees are going to push through and win the mediocre AL East.
New York Yankees
The Yankees know what they have in Masahiro Tanaka. With his pitches darting every different direction, he is an ace. They hope David Phelps and Chase Whitley can be consistent starters. Meanwhile, Vidal Nuno doesn't seem long for the rotation.
Kuroda, 39, has been a tad better of late. After starting 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in his first six starts, Kuroda is 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA in his last eight.
He will face the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The O's are making the second trip of the year to the Bronx. During the first visit in April, Kuroda beat the the Orioles 4-2. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, both earned.
If the Yankees are going to separate themselves from the AL East pack, Kuroda probably has to join Tanaka as a consistent winner.
Pitching Matchups: Your weekend pitching matchups against the Orioles:
Friday, 7 p.m.: Kuroda (4-5, 4.32) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-8., 4.86)
Saturday 1 p.m., Nuno (1-3, 5.90) vs. Bud Norris (6-5, 3.73)
Sunday, 2 p.m., Tanaka (11-1, 1.99) vs. Chris Tillman (5-4, 4.82)
Sunday is a late start because it is Old Timers Day.
On-deck: I'll have you covered when the clubhouse opens at 3:20 p.m. Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend.
2dDanny Knobler, Special to ESPN.com
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